Yesterday, thousands of singles thought about bad dates they have been on and contemplated why they are still single this Valentine’s Day. As I asked various people about their Valentine’s plans, it occurred to me that there are a lot of parallels between good marketing and great dates. In the same way that singles try to make good impressions, present their best selves and build lasting connections, marketers create attractive brands and formulate positioning which appeals to differentiated target audiences. Still not convinced? Think back to your single days and consider what these dating scenarios can teach us about good marketing:
1) You go on a first date and he presents you with his bank statements, family tree and graduate diplomas.
This is essentially what many people think product marketing is about – compiling glossy brochures and technical white papers that outline unique product features, long company history and competitive service level agreements. While all of these are must-haves for the b2b selling process, the reality is that no b2b buyer wants to see these on the ‘first date’.
Lesson: Overwhelming prospects with product information while they are still in the early stages of the sales funnel will most likely have the same result as discussing your bank balance on a first date. It’s all relevant information in the long run, but make sure the other party has bought into your value proposition and is serious about making a commitment before you get down the details.
2) You want to impress your date and pick her up in a Porsche you hired for the evening.
Product marketers need to make sure the different elements of the marketing mix are in line with the product’s positioning.
Lesson: If your packaging implies premium, but your solution is based on a ‘no-frills’ economy model, then you are wasting money and attracting customers who will be disappointed with the actual core product. If they do buy based on a false premise, they will not make a repeat purchase and you will face a lower return on your marketing investment (ROMI)
3) Your date looks stunning but talks about herself all night, leaving you repeatedly checking your watch and eyeing the exit.
Some people misunderstand the term ‘product marketing’ and believe that it’s all about the product. Yet good salespeople know that they should spend more time listening than talking in prospect meetings. Similarly, product marketers need to know as much as possible about the needs and desires of their target market before they start holding forth.
Lesson: The best way to market a product is to let your prospects and customers talk about themselves, and use this information to produce customer-centric marketing pitches. Good product marketing is all about the customer, not all about the product.
4) Your date said she would call you tomorrow to arrange to meet up. That was two weeks ago and you’ve not heard since.
There’s an equivalent scenario that is not at all uncommon in B2B marketing: A prospect requests a trial or a meeting with a consultant, but the person in charge of following up leaves the lead sitting in the CRM software until they get a reminder that their task is now overdue.
Lesson: Prospects face a wide choice of providers and are not ‘desperate’. Make sure the handover from marketing to sales is smooth and closely monitored. Harvard Business Review found that leads that are followed up quickly are seven times more likely to result in a meaningful conversation with the decision maker than leads that are left to go stale.
5) You are half-way through a nice dinner when you realize that your date seems to know way more about you than you’ve told her.
If you met through friends, chances are she asked around about your past relationships and your likes and dislikes. Whichever way you met, it is now almost a given that your date will have googled you and visited your Facebook page. Similarly, your inbound marketing enquiries will come from b2b buyers who have visited not only your website but done extensive research on your product on independent third party sites.
Lesson: According to a study by salesforce.com’s Pardot, 72% of B2B buyers typically start their research for a purchase on Google. It is imperative that b2b marketers go digital and manage their firm’s online and social media presence as carefully as any other aspect of their company’s reputation.
Do you know of any other dating scenarios that have relevance to good b2b marketing? Please share them below or via Twitter with @yasminetweets